A Good, Old Fashioned Baseball Deal

March 05, 2009 |

The Dodgers and outfielder Manny Ramirez finally came to terms on their deal. After months of haggling, Man Ram accepted a two year deal for $45M. Or, at least that’s what the headlines say.

But, if you look at it with a microscope, it isn’t $45M. Heck it’s not even a two year deal.

First of all, Ramirez will get $25M deferred over five years (according to MLB.com). On top of that, Ramirez (who has full no trade protection) can opt out after this season.

This is actually one of those deals that is good for both sides. Let me explain.

From Man Ram’s standpoint, he’s got his deal. He’s got a team to play for. And, he’s got enough money (at the moment) to keep him happy (give him credit for realizing he had to take a lesser deal in the economy we’re in). Now all he has to do is go out and play ball. Which just happens to be what he’s good at.

Will you be surprised if Manny goes out and hits his customary .300 plus, 30-35 homers, and drives in 100 plus RBI? I wouldn’t be. He hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. He hasn’t been one of those guys that stops playing when he gets his money (just take a look at what he did when he got to Boston). Now that the Dodgers have Manny in the fold, they can lock him in for his customary season (All he does is average .314 with 41 homers and 133 RBI a year).

And, if Manny does what he normally does, he can opt out after the season. At that point, the hope (from his side of things) is that the economy will have turned the corner. If that does turn out to be the case, Ramirez (even at the age of thirty-seven) will have no shortage of teams looking to give him the kind of money he thought he was going to get on the open market this winter. If the economy continues down its current path, then he can simply play another year in Los Angeles. He wins either way.

The Dodgers also did well in the deal. In a down economic time, the team somehow found a way to bring Ramirez back at a number that doesn’t break the bank. Which is fortunate for them, considering they went out and signed free agents Orlando Hudson and Randy Wolf as well. If you think about it, they signed one premium free agent at a (somewhat) bargin price, and got better deals with Hudson and Wolf than they could ever have hoped for in a normal economy.

On the field, the Dodgers got a guy who they depended on in a big way last year. I think it worked out pretty well for them. Forget the numbers that Man Ram put up. All that really matters at the end of the day, is wins and losses. And, at the end of September, the Dodgers had enough wins to clinch the NL West.

They didn’t do too badly in the playoffs either, the last I checked. In case you forgot L.A. beat what was considered a better team in the Cubs in the NLDS before losing to the Phillies in the NLCS. And, when you think about it, losing to the team that won the World Series isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s something to build on.

And that’s what the Dodgers, with Joe Torre at the helm, are planning on doing. But, they wouldn’t be able to do it if Ramirez hadn’t re-signed. Let’s face it. A lineup without Ramirez, one that includes James Loney, Hudson, Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake, Andre Ethier, Russell Martin, and Juan Pierre is nice, but it doesn’t scare opposing teams.

But, Ramirez changes everything. He makes that lineup potent. Maybe not as potent as that Boston lineup he was a part of, but certainly potent enough to win a division that seems to be theirs for the taking as of now.

Add in a pitching staff that includes Wolf, the comebacking Jason Schmidt, Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, and you have the makings of a team that should give the Los Angeles faithful another playoff run come October.

Sure, the deal with Ramirez should have gotten done a long time ago. There is probably enough blame on both sides to go around. But the bottom line is that the deal is done. The media can moan and groan about it all they want to, but Dodgers fans don’t care. They just know they have Ramirez back, and they’re happy for it.

And, now that the dust has settled, what got done between the two sides is a rarity in baseball these days. In a day and age when mediocre players get more money than they deserve, the Dodgers and Man Ram struck a deal that was actually good for both sides.

And, with Scott Boras involved as heavily as he was, who would have thought that would happen?